There But For The, by Ali Smith

 

Where Smith's previous novel, The Accidental, saw a charismatic chancer barging her way into the affections of a middle-class family, here, a guest at a dinner party quite literally barges his way into a family home by excusing himself during desert and barricading himself into their upstairs en suite room.

What elevates this cute if gimmicky central idea is Smith's shimmering imagination, her humour and some stupendous prose. The scene preceding the guest's lock-in is a masterclass in social satire.

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